Parents furious as vlogging play sets encourage toddlers to become social media influencers
Parents are furious after kids as young as three are being encouraged to become social media influencers with vlogging play sets aimed at pre-schoolers.
A new toy boasts that being a video blogger was a "top career choice" for youngsters. The wooden £35 (~$39) Vlogger Kit by Plan Toys comes with a pretend selfie stick and camera stand with a ring light in a carry bag. And while the set could serve as a cute decorative piece, many parents are wondering about the impact of such a toy being introduced at a young age.
“Such narcissistic self-promotion already creates unhealthy expectations among teenagers," said The Rev Lynda Rose, of the kids' advocacy group ParentPower, as quoted by The Sun. “To encourage children as young as three to vlog is deeply concerning. Let children be children!” Another parent added, “Being a YouTube vlogger is the last thing I’d want my children to be. I’d much rather they did role play in something more traditional.”
Plan Toys said in a statement, “Our hope is this play-set will encourage little ones to build communication skills and self-esteem through pretend playing as a video blogger. After all, professional videography is one of the top dream careers for kids these days. The purpose of this Vlogger Kit is not to inspire the use of social media or technology. But to instead encourage children to explore their passions, practice putting their vocabulary and social skills into practice, and discover new interests through realistic documentation.”
Earlier this year, Kmart also caused a stir on social media with its 6 Piece Wooden Vlogger Playset. The playset priced at $13 comes with a canvas backpack, mobile phone, camera, selfie stick, ring light, as well as a tripod. "Little ones will love to pretend to take pictures, photos and make videos with this wooden vlogger set," the description on Kmart's website reads. The company also shared photos of the new toy set on the Kmart Bargains Instagram page with the caption, "Some cute new wooden items have popped up online."
Kmart said the toy is designed to "encourage children to showcase their artistic talent, this playset encourages the practice of communications skills and creative thinking." However, the post was quickly inundated with comments from disappointed parents who weren't sold on the idea. "That vlogger thing is just so sad," Former House Rules contestants Lisa and Andy Carmen wrote. "The wooden vlogger play set?! I can’t," another comment read. "The online vlogger set is atrocious. Whoever came up with that idea for a toddler toy should be sacked," someone else added. "Let's make children even more narcissistic than the previous generation! Not impressed by this Kmart attempt," a comment read. "Seriously just what society needs more so-called influencers trying to live a free life off their looks, great work," another fumed.
A survey conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) asked participants aged 14-24 in the UK how social media affected their mental health and well-being. Based on the responses, the study found that those using social media excessively tend to struggle with depression, anxiety, feelings of isolation, and body image. That said, the report concluded that YouTube was the most "positive" platform, while Instagram and Snapchat were deemed to be the most detrimental to youngsters' mental health.